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A farm wife’s tips on fielding non-farmer questions

A farm wife’s tips on fielding non-farmer questions

Sheilah is a farm-grown expert in fielding questions and curiosity from non-farm people. Here is her story.

Between school and my job, I’m around more non-farm people than Mike is. When people ask where I live or what my husband does, it’s always a bit of a shock when they find out we have a farm and that it’s Mike’s full-time job.

It’s usually followed by the “aw-w" factor of ”Oh, that’s so cool!” Sometimes, though, it’s followed by an awkward “Oh, . . ..” when people aren’t sure what to say or think. Then comes a whole bunch of questions: “What do you do?” “How many animals do you have?” “Isn’t that expensive?” “How do you have time for all of that?” And, of course, the comment: “You probably never get to see each other.”

THEY CLEAN UP WELL: As Mike and Sheilah prove, farmers don’t always wear jeans, plaid shirts and boots.

I’m always surprised by how much people are interested in learning about farming. One day, I spent my entire lunch time explaining to a co-worker how harvest goes – explaining the process and showing him pictures.

Responding to curiosity

Occasionally, I get that “So do you grow that GMO stuff?” question. I say we do, then explain why it works best for us. If they want more details, I’ll give it to them. So far, I haven’t had anyone walk away totally disgusted because they didn’t like my answers.

People always want to know how Mike and I have time to take a trip. Sometimes, I hear, “That’s not something farmers do.”

I tell them we’re just normal everyday people. We put money aside when we can. We take a few days here or there when we’re able, and take time off just like they do.

Big trips take longer to plan and save for. And yes, we have to find someone to watch over things and feed the animals. But it’s no different than having to find someone to water houseplants or make sure your house is watched while you’re away. When you phrase it like that, people understand.

This is sometimes followed by: “So, what type of non-farm things do you do? Do you only go on farmer vacations?”

We were able to spend a week early in the year at Disney World with my sister and her family. We enjoy skiing when we have an opportunity to go, and spend time at state parks with our families. Mike and I even took a day trip to West Virginia’s Black Water Falls for my birthday.

By now you know I enjoy talking with people about our farm and what we do. I always do my best to stress the fact that even though we’re farmers, we’re just normal everyday people trying to make a living.

Yes, farming's hard work, and there’s always a lot to do. That doesn’t mean we don’t make and take time for the important things in our life – each other and our families.

Sheilah and Mike Reskovac farm near Uniontown, Pa. Read their "Two Hearts, One Harvest" column in American Agriculturist . This opinion is not necessarily that of

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